by Kimberley Cummins
A mere two points.
That was the number which separated this year’s Richard Stoute Over 21 Contest winner, Michael Alexander, from his nearest rival, Christine Carter.
The battle for the title was on from early last night at the Plantation Garden Theatre. Some contestants brought their “A” game and some just did not have any game to bring at all.
From his first performance one could tell that Alexander was the one to beat. His rendition of Neon Trees’ Animal was great. While he sounded similar to the original singer, he was able to add his own flair — the Michael Alexander brand. His voice was good and he seemed very relaxed and comfortable on stage.
It was probably his performance of Somebody To Love that brought down the house and helped him to gain his 707 points. In my opinion, many people are not competent enough to attempt this Queen number but he did and if Freddie Mercury was alive today he would have probably stood to applaud him. He was just that great. He had the best voice — it was clear and sharp and he was able to utilise it to its maximum potential.
At one point, by the reaction of the crowd, it appeared as if they were very shocked by what he could do vocally. He held one note so long that his face began to glow red, but he continued and held it strong and long without it cracking, then was able to continue singing with the same strength as if that note never happened.
A familiar face at the show remarked that the only other person who could hold a note so long was calypsonian Gabby.
Carter did well for her 705 points and second place. She was ordinary in How Great Thou Art but her performance of Upon This Rock by Sandi Patti was exceptional.
By the look on her face as she stood before the microphone with her head tilted upwards one could tell that she was singing for much more than just a competition. She looked as if she was there to minister and touch the hearts of the listeners. It could be assumed that some were touched when she hit that final falsetto note and the Christ Church venue erupted as some of the audience stood and applauded loudly with smiles planted on their faces.
Troy Arthur’s performance was much improved over his semifinal showing, and he placed third with 644 points.
His performance of My Way was nothing to shout about but I Gotta Be Me was a bit better. He sang in his normal tone and sounded good, he would be well advised to sing like this more often. The audience appreciated it and applauded accordingly.
Last year’s winner, Jamie Depeiza, was not her best last night. Although the audience loved her performance of And I Am Telling You, in my opinion, it was one of the worst I have ever heard. She screamed the song from beginning to end almost forgetting it was a singing competition.
Big Spender was an improvement but not enough to gain her a place in the top. Shelly Ann Niles was very good. She was the lone contestant to perform calypso with the Crystal Cummins-Beckles number Fly On The Wall, and Always On My Mind by Elvis Priestley.
Her voice and phrasing were on point singing kaiso and she dressed well.
Princess Best could have been better had she known that all songs are not supposed to be song the same way. Her voice was good but her rendition of Adele’s Make You Feel My Love was too aggressive.
“When the evening shadows and the stars appear,
And there is no-one there to dry your tears,
I could hold you for a million years…
to make you feel my love.” These lyrics suggest vulnerability, an unwavering love, and Best brought none of these emotions to her performance. She sang more like a woman who could care less if the man comes or goes.
While in her latter performance of Alabaster Box by CeCe Winans she was just too forceful and her performance felt like there was no connection to the song.
Other finalists were: Bryan Best, Gabi Best, Charmaine Bradshaw, O’Neil Harvey, Arthur Moore, Richmond Reid, Jason Stowe and Matthew Williams.